WASHINGTON — Drivers can expect to see average regular retail gasoline prices to fall this summer driving season from $3.66 per gallon in May to $3.46 per gallon in September, according to projections recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook.
Regular gasoline retail prices during the April-September summer driving season are projected to average $3.57 per gallon, according to the EIA.
Overall gasoline retail prices are expected to average $3.45 per gallon this year, and $3.37 per gallon in 2015, the EIA adds.
The July 2014 New York Harbor reformulated blendstock for oxygenate blending futures contract averaged $2.85 per gallon for the five trading days ending April 3, according to the EIA, adding that there is a 3% probability that its price at expiration will exceed $3.35 per gallon, consistent with a monthly average regular-grade gasoline retail price exceeding $4 per gallon in July.
The Brent crude oil spot price averaged near $110 per barrel in March, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices remained near $101 per barrel, according to the EIA, adding that the discount of WTI crude oil to Brent crude oil, which averaged more than $13 per barrel from November through January, fell to $7 per barrel last month.
New pipeline capacity from the Midwest into the Gulf Coast helped reduce inventories at the Cushing, Okla., storage hub to 27 million barrels by the end of March, the lowest level since November 2009, the organization says.
EIA says it expects the WTI discount to average $9 per barrel this year, and $11 per barrel in 2015.
Natural working gas inventories on March 28 were 0.82 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), 0.88 Tcf (52%) below last year’s level, and 0.99 Tcf below the five-year average (2009-2013).
Henry Hub natural gas spot prices have been “volatile” over the past few months, the EIA says, reaching a recent high of $8.15 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on Feb. 10, before falling back to $4.61/MMBtu on Feb. 27, then spiking up to $7.98/MMBtu on March 4.
The EIA says it expects the Henry Hub natural gas spot price, which averaged $3.73/MMBtu in 2013, to average $4.44/MMBtu this year, and $4.11/MMBtu in 2015.